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Napoleon House
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

14 Essential French Quarter Bars

A round up of French Quarter favorites — some highbrow, others low, and all manner in between

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Napoleon House
| Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

If there’s another American neighborhood with a higher concentration of bars, do tell. No need to even include Bourbon’s many strip and night clubs among the count. At just one square mile, New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood contains a wide spectrum of watering holes, from upper crust establishments, where a sazerac or a French 75 will set you back $14, to dimly lit holes where a plastic cup of dissolution can be had for $3.

But there’s no need to settle on just one type of drinking experience here as French Quarter bars are within walking distance of one another. Indeed one of the great pleasures of drinking in the Quarter is meandering, go cup in hand, between bars.

Given the choices, paring down a list to only a dozen Vieux Carre spots is harder than it may seem and and no doubt such lists are bound to provoke heated debate among locals and savvy visitors. After some three hundred years, drinking rituals run deep.

But here’s a round up of some favorites — some highbrow, others low, and all manner in between.

— Allison Alsup

Restaurants are listed geographically. Have feedback on our essential French Quarter bars? Leave a comment or send Eater NOLA an email.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Arnaud's French 75 Bar

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813 Bienville St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 523-5433
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Once a space that was only for men, the French 75 continues to evoke the upper crust masculinity of an intimate, upper crust English club. A gorgeous polished bar, circa late 1800s, runs the length of the room. Every item of the short but eclectic menu of cocktails is an inventive winner, and with several options around $10, the bar represents a good value, even for an upscale venue.

Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

2. Black Penny

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700 N Rampart St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 304-4779

Located at the edge of the Quarter on Rampart St, Black Penny bills itself as a neighborhood bar. And while the beer-centric, dog-friendly spot draws a diverse crowd, patrons tend to skew slightly hipster. Dark, woody, and more introspective than its cocktail-oriented older sister Bar Tonique, the Penny is a prime spot to sit at the wrap-around bar and sample off-the-beaten-path ales. An extensive beer menu divided into taste profiles helps to guide the palette and the pocket book.

Black Penny
Black Penny/Facebook

3. The Carousel Bar & Lounge

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214 Royal St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 523-3341
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The Carousel has been a cherished local landmark for 65 years, and it’s not unusual to find locals whose parents and even grandparents, frequented this delightful spot in the Hotel Monteleone. Yes, the bar is lit up and shaped like a carousel (fortunately stools mean there’s no need to straddle an animal) and yes, it does turn though at one revolution every fifteen minutes, you might not notice. Consider splurging on a slow sipping cocktail like a sazerac or the house special, a Vieux Carre. In addition to the bar, arrangements of posh club chairs in the spacious lounge accommodate groups, and should appease even the snootiest of relatives and friends. Some live music afternoons and evenings.

Inside Carousel Bar
Carousel Bar
Brasted/Eater NOLA

4. Erin Rose

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811 Conti St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 523-8619
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Just a few steps from Bourbon’s mayhem, Erin Rose offers a pocket of cozy respite. Slim, unpretentious, and outfitted with a classic long bar, this perennial local favorite evokes a small Irish pub. Grab a pint or a whiskey and transition from day to night or refuel with banh mi from the Killer Poboys window in back before heading out into the night. Or drink like a local and stay for hours while catching up with an old friend.

5. Bar Tonique

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820 N Rampart St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 324-6045
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Decidedly more done up than the Black Penny, boothy Bar Tonique centers on cocktails and casual glam. With exposed brick walls and high ceilings, Bar Tonique evokes classic New Orleans architecture. Drinks tend to run on the pricier side but quality ingredients and skill warrant the tab. Plus, drink specials help soften the blow. A selection of clever temperance drinks offers even teetotalers a bit of fun.  

Brasted

6. Chart Room

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300 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 522-1708

This dingy spot on the corner of Chartres and Bienville has regulars that date back to the 70s, the days when the French Quarter was a real neighborhood and residents were proud to be called Quarter rats. The drinks are cheap, the bar grungy, the crowd mostly talkative. An ideal place to find solace away from the masses.

Chart Room
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

7. SoBou

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310 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 552-4095
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Fresh and clean-lined (and clean), Sobou provides a contemporary alternative to the Quarter’s vintage scene. Sobou features a small but considered wine menu, classic cocktails, in house originals, and local brews on draught. A very worthwhile 3-6 p.m. daily “happier” hour offers sazeracs, wine by the glass, and other drink specials as well as snacks, all for under $6.

SoBou BRASTED

8. Fritzel's European Jazz Pub

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733 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA

Nestled between the party hardy bars and strips clubs of Bourbon, Fritzel’s remains in a bohemian class all its own. While mostly known for its nightly swing jazz shows, Fritzel’s offers a respite from the cover bands that otherwise dominate the strip. This style of Dixieland jazz skews towards a more mature crowd, so those looking for edge should head elsewhere. Decent beer selection and full bar. FYI: If you’re looking to sit, a hostess will direct you. Be forewarned, the club is small and often packed and the bleacher style seating isn’t cush.

9. Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29

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321 N Peters St
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 609-3811
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When tiki historian Jeff Beachbum Berry opened this fun upscale lounge in the Quarter in 2014, the cocktail world rejoiced. The award-winning bar program from the leading authority on tiki culture features dozens of resurrected tiki drinks, from Sinatra’s favorite sipper to crazy communal wonders. The cool, laid-back atmosphere, and in-the-know staff has made it a favorite in the local service industry, as well as attracting national attention from entities like Tales of the Cocktail and Miracle Christmas, which has partnered with Berry for the now-annual Sippin’ Santa pop-up.

Latitude 29, one of New Orleans most influential bars of 2014.
Latitude 29
Brasted/Eater NOLA

10. Napoleon House

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500 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 524-9752
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Originally built as a refuge for Napolean Bonaparte, this 200-year-old townhouse exudes the sort of exquisite, romantic decay that epitomizes the French Quarter. With its peeling plaster walls, exposed beams, classic polished bar and opera arias playing in the background, time seems to stand still here, and it’s easy to see why the building has been the subject of countless photographs, including photo spreads for Anthropologie. Classics, such as a Pimm’s Cup, Aperol Sptriz, or BouIevardier are all good bets and can be had for around $10. Note the Napolean House keeps restaurant hours and closes at 10 p.m.

Josh Brasted

11. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

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941 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 593-9761
Visit Website

There are old buildings in the French Quarter and then there are old. Now coming up on its 300th birthday, Lafitte’s is reputed to be the oldest building used as a bar in the U.S. The iconic brick and beam Creole cottage construction is a standout even in a neighborhood of standouts, and is believed to have been the storehouse of New Orleans privateer Jean Lafitte. The bar continues to attract visitors less for its cocktail program than for its candle lit, rustic, and yes, pirate-y atmosphere. And while Lafitte’s gets bustling come night, its lower Bourbon location puts some breathing room between it and the strip club scene. Keep the drinks simple here.

12. Golden Lantern

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1239 Royal St
New Orleans, LA
(504)529-2860

Simultaneously divey and charming and very faintly pagoda-esque, the Golden Lantern is like its name, welcoming and slightly magical. Somehow this 24-hour watering hole manages to feel more removed from the world than most bars; it also offers an incredibly generous daily happy hour lasting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Gay-centered but straight-friendly, it’s where one could imagine Blanche DuBois would have eventually ended up sipping rum and cokes on rainy afternoons had she not been so undone by Stanley. Free live entertainment, including drag shows on the weekends.

13. Molly's at the Market

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1107 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 525-5169
Visit Website

Punchy and cheap, Molly’s has long been a go-to for locals needing to meet up with visiting groups of chatty, non-fussy friends. While it’s lower Decatur location makes it a useful pit stop for those heading to or returning from the music clubs on Frenchmen Street, plenty of folks seem content to hang out here for hours. Keep cocktails simple: Five bucks will buy a frozen Irish coffee, Moscow mule, or a dark and stormy, but for the most part, Molly’s is a beer and chaser sort of joint. Local brews on draught.

14. Cane & Table

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1113 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 581-1112
Visit Website

Cane & Table’s unassuming exterior makes it easy to miss; indeed when its doors are closed, it almost looks like the place has gone out of business. But step inside and you’ll be rewarded with a spare and airy interior that draws more from the Quarter’s Latin and Caribbean connections than its European ones. A subtle navigation theme can be found on Cane & Table’s highly original cocktail menu. Most drinks combine spirits and draw from such diverse spirits as amaro, negroni, mezcal, armagnac, and tequila; a selection of sherry and ciders is also available. Seating is varied with a wrap-around bar, tables, and back patio options, though come evening, tables may be full with diners. Upper shelf and from scratch ingredients means cocktail prices tend to run high, but for those on a budget, consider the weekday happy hour specials from 3-6 p.m.

Cane & Table
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

1. Arnaud's French 75 Bar

813 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Once a space that was only for men, the French 75 continues to evoke the upper crust masculinity of an intimate, upper crust English club. A gorgeous polished bar, circa late 1800s, runs the length of the room. Every item of the short but eclectic menu of cocktails is an inventive winner, and with several options around $10, the bar represents a good value, even for an upscale venue.

813 Bienville St
New Orleans, LA

2. Black Penny

700 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA
Black Penny
Black Penny/Facebook

Located at the edge of the Quarter on Rampart St, Black Penny bills itself as a neighborhood bar. And while the beer-centric, dog-friendly spot draws a diverse crowd, patrons tend to skew slightly hipster. Dark, woody, and more introspective than its cocktail-oriented older sister Bar Tonique, the Penny is a prime spot to sit at the wrap-around bar and sample off-the-beaten-path ales. An extensive beer menu divided into taste profiles helps to guide the palette and the pocket book.

700 N Rampart St
New Orleans, LA

3. The Carousel Bar & Lounge

214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA
Inside Carousel Bar
Carousel Bar
Brasted/Eater NOLA

The Carousel has been a cherished local landmark for 65 years, and it’s not unusual to find locals whose parents and even grandparents, frequented this delightful spot in the Hotel Monteleone. Yes, the bar is lit up and shaped like a carousel (fortunately stools mean there’s no need to straddle an animal) and yes, it does turn though at one revolution every fifteen minutes, you might not notice. Consider splurging on a slow sipping cocktail like a sazerac or the house special, a Vieux Carre. In addition to the bar, arrangements of posh club chairs in the spacious lounge accommodate groups, and should appease even the snootiest of relatives and friends. Some live music afternoons and evenings.

214 Royal St
New Orleans, LA

4. Erin Rose

811 Conti St, New Orleans, LA

Just a few steps from Bourbon’s mayhem, Erin Rose offers a pocket of cozy respite. Slim, unpretentious, and outfitted with a classic long bar, this perennial local favorite evokes a small Irish pub. Grab a pint or a whiskey and transition from day to night or refuel with banh mi from the Killer Poboys window in back before heading out into the night. Or drink like a local and stay for hours while catching up with an old friend.

811 Conti St
New Orleans, LA

5. Bar Tonique

820 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA
Brasted

Decidedly more done up than the Black Penny, boothy Bar Tonique centers on cocktails and casual glam. With exposed brick walls and high ceilings, Bar Tonique evokes classic New Orleans architecture. Drinks tend to run on the pricier side but quality ingredients and skill warrant the tab. Plus, drink specials help soften the blow. A selection of clever temperance drinks offers even teetotalers a bit of fun.  

820 N Rampart St
New Orleans, LA

6. Chart Room

300 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Chart Room
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

This dingy spot on the corner of Chartres and Bienville has regulars that date back to the 70s, the days when the French Quarter was a real neighborhood and residents were proud to be called Quarter rats. The drinks are cheap, the bar grungy, the crowd mostly talkative. An ideal place to find solace away from the masses.

300 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA 70130

7. SoBou

310 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA
SoBou BRASTED

Fresh and clean-lined (and clean), Sobou provides a contemporary alternative to the Quarter’s vintage scene. Sobou features a small but considered wine menu, classic cocktails, in house originals, and local brews on draught. A very worthwhile 3-6 p.m. daily “happier” hour offers sazeracs, wine by the glass, and other drink specials as well as snacks, all for under $6.

310 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA

8. Fritzel's European Jazz Pub

733 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA

Nestled between the party hardy bars and strips clubs of Bourbon, Fritzel’s remains in a bohemian class all its own. While mostly known for its nightly swing jazz shows, Fritzel’s offers a respite from the cover bands that otherwise dominate the strip. This style of Dixieland jazz skews towards a more mature crowd, so those looking for edge should head elsewhere. Decent beer selection and full bar. FYI: If you’re looking to sit, a hostess will direct you. Be forewarned, the club is small and often packed and the bleacher style seating isn’t cush.

733 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA

9. Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29

321 N Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Latitude 29, one of New Orleans most influential bars of 2014.
Latitude 29
Brasted/Eater NOLA

When tiki historian Jeff Beachbum Berry opened this fun upscale lounge in the Quarter in 2014, the cocktail world rejoiced. The award-winning bar program from the leading authority on tiki culture features dozens of resurrected tiki drinks, from Sinatra’s favorite sipper to crazy communal wonders. The cool, laid-back atmosphere, and in-the-know staff has made it a favorite in the local service industry, as well as attracting national attention from entities like Tales of the Cocktail and Miracle Christmas, which has partnered with Berry for the now-annual Sippin’ Santa pop-up.

321 N Peters St
New Orleans, LA 70130

10. Napoleon House

500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA
Josh Brasted

Originally built as a refuge for Napolean Bonaparte, this 200-year-old townhouse exudes the sort of exquisite, romantic decay that epitomizes the French Quarter. With its peeling plaster walls, exposed beams, classic polished bar and opera arias playing in the background, time seems to stand still here, and it’s easy to see why the building has been the subject of countless photographs, including photo spreads for Anthropologie. Classics, such as a Pimm’s Cup, Aperol Sptriz, or BouIevardier are all good bets and can be had for around $10. Note the Napolean House keeps restaurant hours and closes at 10 p.m.

500 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA

11. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA

There are old buildings in the French Quarter and then there are old. Now coming up on its 300th birthday, Lafitte’s is reputed to be the oldest building used as a bar in the U.S. The iconic brick and beam Creole cottage construction is a standout even in a neighborhood of standouts, and is believed to have been the storehouse of New Orleans privateer Jean Lafitte. The bar continues to attract visitors less for its cocktail program than for its candle lit, rustic, and yes, pirate-y atmosphere. And while Lafitte’s gets bustling come night, its lower Bourbon location puts some breathing room between it and the strip club scene. Keep the drinks simple here.

941 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA

12. Golden Lantern

1239 Royal St, New Orleans, LA

Simultaneously divey and charming and very faintly pagoda-esque, the Golden Lantern is like its name, welcoming and slightly magical. Somehow this 24-hour watering hole manages to feel more removed from the world than most bars; it also offers an incredibly generous daily happy hour lasting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Gay-centered but straight-friendly, it’s where one could imagine Blanche DuBois would have eventually ended up sipping rum and cokes on rainy afternoons had she not been so undone by Stanley. Free live entertainment, including drag shows on the weekends.

1239 Royal St
New Orleans, LA

13. Molly's at the Market

1107 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA

Punchy and cheap, Molly’s has long been a go-to for locals needing to meet up with visiting groups of chatty, non-fussy friends. While it’s lower Decatur location makes it a useful pit stop for those heading to or returning from the music clubs on Frenchmen Street, plenty of folks seem content to hang out here for hours. Keep cocktails simple: Five bucks will buy a frozen Irish coffee, Moscow mule, or a dark and stormy, but for the most part, Molly’s is a beer and chaser sort of joint. Local brews on draught.

1107 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA

14. Cane & Table

1113 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA
Cane & Table
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Cane & Table’s unassuming exterior makes it easy to miss; indeed when its doors are closed, it almost looks like the place has gone out of business. But step inside and you’ll be rewarded with a spare and airy interior that draws more from the Quarter’s Latin and Caribbean connections than its European ones. A subtle navigation theme can be found on Cane & Table’s highly original cocktail menu. Most drinks combine spirits and draw from such diverse spirits as amaro, negroni, mezcal, armagnac, and tequila; a selection of sherry and ciders is also available. Seating is varied with a wrap-around bar, tables, and back patio options, though come evening, tables may be full with diners. Upper shelf and from scratch ingredients means cocktail prices tend to run high, but for those on a budget, consider the weekday happy hour specials from 3-6 p.m.

1113 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA

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